Figures close to the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), including sons of cabinet members, are facing serious allegations of bribery and money laundering. The government is denying all accusations and claims the charges are part of a conspiracy with roots both foreign and domestic.
Over the past 11 years, Turkey has been undergoing an important transformation. While it seems to defend secular and modern-looking Western lifestyles, it is trying to come out of the tangle of Kemalism, which is a regime disregarding democratic values of the West. Even if Kemalism had at first dreamed of establishing a real Western democracy, it was later defiled and turned into a hegemony of the elite.
In several veiled references to the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who has been critical of the government for trying to derail the corruption investigation, the prime minister claimed that the operation was orchestrated by “gangs” and a “parallel state.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has praised Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab — who stands accused of being the ringleader of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling ring set up to dodge sanctions against Iran — for his contribution to the country’s economy.
The Hizmet movement, the largest civil society group in Turkey, inspired by Fethullah Gülen, is active in around 150 countries. Hizmet is marked by outstanding schools, dialogue initiatives and relief organizations. Its greatest achievement, however, is the ability to remain independent at all times
The ongoing graft investigation, which hit the press on Dec. 17 with a major police operation resulting in the arrest of 24 suspects — including prominent business figures and the sons of two ministers — sparked a public discussion on the links between politics and Islam, as a majority of the members of the ruling party present themselves as devout Muslims.
The Gülen community is a movement of volunteers. The real reason for the row is not the community’s attempt to meddle in politics. It is due to its sheer size and public image. As he did with other groups or communities, Erdoğan sought to take full control of the Hizmet movement in an effort to consolidate his power. Following the defeat of the military tutelage, the government saw a convergence of power. However, the Hizmet movement was not a piece of cake which it could swallow easily. The government had previously purged itself of many bureaucrats who are close to the community.
“The extent of this operation is far beyond the reach of the cemaat [the Hizmet movement],” [“The extent of this operation is far beyond the reach of the cemaat [the Hizmet movement],” Famous Turkish investor Nasrullah Ayan said. He thinks, rather, that powerful international groups could have pulled the trigger or provided technical support to the probe. He pointed to the fact that the operation was launched after the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations in Geneva — which gave Iran partial relief from a harsh regime of
Islamist scholar Fethullah Gülen has countered the Turkish prime minister’s remarks vowing to clamp down on “the ones in lairs,” escalating the heat of the war of words between parties amid the ongoing corruption probe.
Thousands took to the streets of İstanbul on Sunday to protest against the government over a corruption scandal that has led to multiple arrests, including sons of two ministers and general manager of the state-run Halkbank.
Twenty-four people, including the sons of two ministers and the head of state-owned Halkbank, have been formally charged in connection with the corruption inquiry that Erdoğan has called a “dirty operation” to undermine his rule.